Field Day Message / Volunteers Aid Annual Conservation Program -- Students Discover Caring for Natural Resources Lurking amid Fun
Henry Bailey, Jr., The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Helping fill some 900 eco-educational goody bags for an equal number of DeSoto and Tate County fifth-graders truly was Matt Hanks' bag, as he gingerly plucked and plopped pencils, pamphlets and squeeze toys with environmental messages.
I actually worked as a checkout boy, sacking groceries one summer in Grenada when I was home from Mississippi State, said Hanks.
At MSU, he bagged a bachelor's degree in geological science and a master's in geospatial sciences on his way to becoming director of DeSoto's Geographic Information Services office.
Now, along with fellow GIS staffer Scott Traopolino who said, This is as good as it gets and about a dozen other volunteers, Hanks was stuffing bags to give to students participating in the annual Conservation Field Day environmental education program Wednesday and Thursday. At the Corps of Engineers' Dub Patton Recreational Area at Arkabutla Lake, sponsored for more than a dozen years by the DeSoto Soil and Water Conservation District.
This will be our third year at Field Day, Hanks said. Our geocaching station is one of the most popular; a lot of teachers request their classes be in the rotation for it. Geocaching integrates direction-finding technology with the outdoors, and kids love it. They hold that device like they see adults do and it makes them feel important.
Stuffing bags nearby was Ray Laughter, director of DeSoto's Environmental Services office.
I'm doing some public outreach, he said as he reached for backpack lights donated by Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto and water bottles from the soil district office. …